Once I was a member, although not fully eligible to join, of a community of people who gathered over grief.
I was the leader, though never feeling equipped. Often, I thought to advise or redirect which led to empty gazed expressions from those mourning a loss due to suicide.
It was simply better that I just sit with them, that I listen.
Often listening lasted too long for me.
Moments between a gut-wrenching story and the responses of others stretched out long around the conference table.
Still, sitting still together in silence was best.
On Tuesday, my granddaughter who’s two and a half going on twenty asked to get closer, get closer to the little birds.
I saw one bird on a thin branch. She spotted its companion nearby. We walked carefully, me instructing her, “Step up high, high knees, watch your feet, be careful!”
We walked over limbs, pine tree remnants and broken up soil in the place where the land is being cleared for changes, her future and her family’s.
I thought of, am thinking of David, of the psalms. One in particular I cling to and others so honest we’re reluctant to say we can relate.
“I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.”
Psalm 102:7 ESV
We found our footing atop a little high place she called the mountains and we saw the sparrows before they flitted away.
In the margin of my Bible there’s a sketch here, a rooftop with a solitary bird brings me comfort, tells me others understand.
I have a very old Bible, an estate sale find. Once I thought to find the owner’s family, now I have decided it’s mine.
In this old Oxford Bible, a leather woven cover soft over the thin yellow pages, I find papers, a teacher’s identification card, and a lesson plan marked “January”, a typewritten script for 5th grade students on the color wheel.
The owner of the Bible I found was an art teacher.
Underlined in faded red, she must’ve wanted to express the importance of colors developing, merging, being strengthened when placed alongside or blended together.
I found it fitting to tuck the funeral pamphlet of my mama’s service here.
Here in January.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.”
Psalm 138:7 KJV
Today, I journaled prompted by more ancient words, the quote in my “Joy and Strength” devotional.
Let them be strangers, your dark thoughts. Believe them not. Receive them not. Know them not. Own them not. (Joy and Strength, Isaac Pennington)
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT
Continue and believe. Share your sorrows. Listen and agree.
Jesus, we need you.